Ranching Heritage Breeder: McBride Hereford Ranches Inc.

Ranching Heritage Breeder: McBride Hereford Ranches Inc.

A century’s tradition helps guide this fifth-generation Washington ranch.

Ranching Heritage Breeder McBride Hereford ranches inc

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By Andrea Caudill

More than a century ago, a young man named Clarence McBride traded a pocket watch for 10 cows.

His parents, Benjamin and Dollie McBride, had moved to Washington state around the turn of the century and began homesteading, and as a very young adult filled with with faith and determination, Clarence was soon grazing his own herd on his own homestead, which kicked off a family operation that is still going strong today. 

McBride Hereford Ranches Inc. is operated by his granddaughter, Doris, and her husband, Gary Hess, along with their son, Eric, and his wife, Becky. The young couple is now raising the next generation, with young sons Kade, 4, and Callen, 2. The family ranches on approximately 17,000 acres based near Mabton, Washington, and their holdings include some of Clarence’s original homesteaded land.

The ranch originally grazed Hereford cattle and specialized in selling registered bulls, but now has a commercial pairs operation of Hereford-Angus cross cattle. 

There is plenty of work for everyone, but Doris also operates a successful side business called Wild Rags & Scarves by Doris, selling necessary cowboy accessories.

The livestock grazes on the high desert-type land, which is hilly, with sagebrush, canyons and rimrock. It is rough country, with plenty of places for a wily heifer to hide. 

A good working horse is a big help, and Doris’ father added an equine breeding program. More than 30 years later, they run a broodmare band of about a baker’s dozen, with two stallions and a riding remuda of about 15 horses. 

“My husband rides full time, so does our employee, Joe,” Becky says. “And, of course, Doris and I enjoy riding when we can. We ride through our cattle every day while we’re calving. 

“We rope and tag all of our calves on the range,” she adds. “Then we sort for shipping, we brand on them, if we just need to get out and check things, that’s what we use.” 

The ranch is an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder, which a program open only to working cattle ranches that breed horses for ranch work and have been in operation for more than 10 years. 

“For us it’s versatility,” Becky says of what their breeding program is striving to produce. “They have so many jobs they need to do for us, and then we also have a pretty wide market. The market is so diverse from rodeo to trail riding to showing. I guess, ideally, we’re raising a horse we want good conformation, good bone, ability to travel, sound mind. We just shoot for a well-rounded horse that can fit most people.”

The ranch’s horses are raised out in that rough country, building strong minds and bodies. They sell most of their colt crop as weanlings via private treaty, posting photos, videos and information on their Facebook page. 

The family retains a small handful of horses each year to develop into riding horses. The horses are started as 3-year-olds, and Eric puts them to work as ranch horses. 

“We’ll ride the 3-year-olds through the winter, calving, and they get the full ranch experience,” Becky says. “Then we market them again in the spring as broke ranch horses.” 

The ranch sires are Phoebes Fletch, a son of Royal Fletch, and The Boy Named Sioux, a son of A Shiner Named Sioux. 

Their mares’ bloodlines include the likes of Peppy San Badger, Peptoboonsmal, High Brow Cat, Joe Cody, Zan Parr Bar, Smart Little Lena, Peppy Badger Chex and Sugar Vandy, as well as some of their own classic ranch horse blood that helps keep substantial size and bone on their horses. 

“Bone is something we really want to keep,” Becky says. “If you want to add the agility of the modern-day cow horses, a lot of them are a little more refined, so (retaining the bone) is something we strive to keep. We need something that can move, but also that will last you 20 years.” 

The ranch’s brand is applied to the right hip, and is a bar seven six, with the two numbers flowed together in conjunction. 

The brand, like the operation, has been around for a long time, and has been carried on a lot of good horses. So whether you’re in the market for a wild rag or a sound cow horse, McBride Hereford Ranches has it covered. 

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder program highlights working cattle ranches that breed high-quality American Quarter Horses primarily for ranch work. Horses bred by these ranches are given unique opportunities through Ranching Heritage competitions open only to these horses. For more information, visit www.aqha.com/ranching.